Pedalling farmers out of poverty
International Development Enterprises, India (IDEI) promotes treadle pumps for irrigation to smallholder farmers. Its work is an impressive example of the numbers of people that can benefit from technology and good business sense. But maybe as impressive is the evidence that in addition to the staple diet of wheat or maize, farmers’ families using the pumps now grow and eat papaya, onions, coriander, garlic, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Very human evidence of the impact of technology and business-sense on our quality of life.
The demand for better irrigation in India is huge. 98 million farmers are smallholders and most only grow one crop a year, watered by the monsoon. In response IDEI has set up a distribution system for their low-cost (US$30-US$42) treadle pump which has revolutionised capacity. Farmers can now grow two or even three crops a year. Incomes in some areas have doubled. In total by 2009 over 750,000 treadle pumps had been installed bringing benefits to nearly four million people. This is change on a huge, yet affordable scale.
Yet IDEI believes that there is much further to go. Ambitious Bollywood-style marketing aims to help them provide another four million systems in ten years. And a spin-off company is spearheading an international push. Through IDEI, a locally developed solution is capable of tackling a serious global problem.
(our earlier film of the work of IDEI is in its 2007 database entry)